From Jenna Orkin in New York
"The payments include $4bn for criminal charges and $525m to security regulators. BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect in relation to the deaths of 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the rig blew up and sank in April 2010, as well as misdemeanour counts under the clean water and migratory bird acts. The company will plead guilty to lying to Congress.
"This marks the single largest criminal fine – $1.25m – and the single largest total criminal resolution – $4m – in the history of the United States," the attorney general, Eric Holder, told a news conference in New Orleans. "I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this kind of reckless and wanton misconduct that there will be a significant penalty to be paid.""
What a load of crap. Ten times that amount would have been more appropriate, and the criminal prosecution of top management. $4.5 billion is a drop in the bucket to BP, a bump in the road only. It has no serious deterrent affect on any of the major oil companies.
Eric "Place"-Holder and our "Just-Us" system on full inglorious display. - Wes
"Three former BP employees also face separate felony charges related to the spill, the Justice Department announced. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, BP drilling managers who oversaw operations on the Deepwater Horizon rig, were charged with 22 counts of negligent manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 rig workers. David Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to Congress and federal law enforcement officials about the amount of oil leaking from the well."
Mere scapegoats, deserving as they may be. The real bad guys are in the Executive Suite. - Wes
Antibiotics crisis 'will mean routine infections are fatal'
"Stephan Kohler, the head of the German Energy Agency, says the country must act smarter and more realistically in its transition to renewable energy. The "feel-good" subsidies for locally produced wind and solar power have had unintended consequences, he says, and the environmental movement is often part of the problem."
"Kohler: When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable. Neither solar nor wind power are suitable for that purpose today. Both fluctuate and provide either no secure supply or only a small fraction of a secure supply. Solar energy has a load factor of about 1,000 hours a year. But there are 8,670 hours in a year."
Because that's all there is. It's like the corny joke, "Why did the fireman wear red suspenders?" "To keep his pants up." – JO
As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. - JO
"...USA Today reported today that 100 service members, mostly soldiers and Marines, are diagnosed with Mucor and Aspergillus terreus, tough-to-identify fungi that gets "blown-deep" into blast wounds.
The organism is especially dangerous because the wounded skin looks healthy at first, so doctors trying to preserve a limb will stop cutting before they get to the infection. But once the fungus gets to work, surgeons have to amputate more of the limb. Six of the 100 infected have died, Navy Cmdr. Carlos Rodriguez told USA Today.
The doctors said the fungi seems to have the greatest effects on troops with multiple or lower-body injuries, since they often also receive blood and therefore have weaker immune systems."
"This map by the IDF Homefront Command shows the distance from Gaza as well as the amount of time residents of nearby cities have to seek shelter once the air raid alarms go off."
US Business Confidence Continues Its Stunning Collapse
""Rising fiscal policy uncertainty is having an increasingly negative impact on business activity as the fiscal cliff looms, write the economists led by Vincent Reinhart. "After the status quo election results, the ideological divide that blew up the “Grand Bargain” in 2011 still exists. Risks are significant that a fiscal cliff deal won’t be reached by January 1, potentially a major blow to an economy that appears to be moving into year end with little momentum.""
"Rising fiscal policy uncertainty is having an increasingly negative impact on business activity as the fiscal cliff looms, write the economists led by Vincent Reinhart. "After the status quo election results, the ideological divide that blew up the “Grand Bargain” in 2011 still exists. Risks are significant that a fiscal cliff deal won’t be reached by January 1, potentially a major blow to an economy that appears to be moving into year end with little momentum."
East coast prepares for another battle with Mother Nature
"Residents along the east coast of the United States can't seem to catch a break, preparing for another nor'easter that may hit the area next week."
Residents along the east coast of the United States can't seem to catch a break, preparing for another nor'easter that may hit the area next week.
"Meanwhile, off the record, current and ex-CIA officers are telling the press that they never liked Petraeus in the first place. A package of stories in Timeportrayed CIA analysts bristling at Petraeus’ martinet style. “The agency’s not a militaristic organization,” one ex-official huffs to the magazine, “They don’t welcome people barking orders without debate.” That follows on a story in The New York Times before Petraeus’ downfall that CIA officials were disinclined to fall in line behind the ex-general. “The attitude at the agency is, ‘You may be the director, but I’m the Thailand analyst,‘” went one memorable quote sourced to an anonymous CIA veteran.
“Military guys tend not to do well, because they treat senior people like Lt. Colonels on their staffs,” one former intelligence official tells Danger Room. “He tried to avoid that. But the [military] bearing is the bearing.”"
Is Petraeus going to be our next Lance Armstrong, fallen from (media) grace? Probably more like a new vehicle to attack Obama...
I never liked the guy either, and I was constantly sickened by the media and politicians on both sides fawning all over him. There is no magic behind Petraeus, only the magic of Uncle Sam's money to buy off would-be aggressors. Petraeus just proved himself to be one of the dumbest, most inept of Agency bosses, as he did the single most obvious no-no that everybody in the Agency knows not to do. The woman was writing a book about him for Christ's sake! Did he think she would NOT write about the affair, too? Classic case of stupid. And how many people has Petreaus disciplined for the same offence while in the military, included dishonorable discharges? Hundreds, I'd guess.
I have no sympathy, only scorn. - Wes
What were they in before? - JO
"Hopes for a bipartisan compromise on the "fiscal cliff" threatening the nation's economy are beginning to fade just 10 days after the election that will leave President Barack Obama in the White House and Republicans in command of the House. Obama on Wednesday drew a line in the sand, saying he was confident the problem could be resolved but that he would not approve an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans."
We'll see how intransigent the Republicans are when the automatic tax hikes kick in. They'll be squealing for a deal before then. - Wes
"If Congress drives the economy off the "fiscal cliff," wave goodbye to short sales that have helped the housing market get back on its feet.
At risk is a provision that erases taxes on selling a home for less than what's owed to the bank.
Expiration of the tax treatment would create a major new headache for the one in four homeowners who owe more than their house is worth. Those "underwater" sellers would have to come up with a big check for Uncle Sam to pay the tax on the difference."
"A group of volunteers has collected something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue for Hurricane Sandy victims — by setting up an online wedding registry.
Three “Occupy Sandy” operatives working out of a Clinton Hill church have amassed 25,000 items worth more than $650,000, and are distributing them in the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways and Coney Island — all thanks to an online hub they set up as an Amazon wedding registry on Nov. 3."
The greatest book about mushrooms you'll ever read
"The magnitude of the disaster argues for a ban, said Tiefer, who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting.
“For BP to get off without a suspension or debarment is like going to a maximum security federal prison and handing out a folder of pardons,” he said. “For what BP did to the Gulf of Mexico, it should be getting shock treatment, not just monitoring.”
Government agencies are allowed to suspend or disqualify companies from bidding on or receiving new contracts if they have committed or are suspected of committing wrongdoing. Debarred companies are able to work on existing contracts."
"“To the people of Gaza and the 'Occupied Territories', know that Anonymous stands with you in this fight," the group said in a statement. "We will do everything in our power to hinder the evil forces of the IDF arrayed against you. We will use all our resources to make certain you stay connected to the Internet and remain able to transmit your experiences to the world.""
"A company that supplies controversial passenger-screening machines for U.S. airports is under suspicion for possibly manipulating tests on privacy software designed to prevent the machines from producing graphic body images.
The Transportation Security Administration sent a letter Nov. 9 to the parent company of Rapiscan, the maker of backscatter machines, requesting information about the testing of the software to determine if there was malfeasance."
"Evidently suffering from a nasty strain of Re-election Derangement Syndrome, some Americans want to leave the country. They don't want to flee to Canada or Mexico (too many foreigners), but create their own little nations in which they can breathe the unregulated air of liberty, free from the godless, Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist tyranny of Barack Hussein Obama.
Secession is back. White supremacists, Christian fundamentalists, and other malcontents lost in the back streets of Crazytown, post petitions on the White House's "We the People" website, demanding that their state be allowed to separate from the Union. While the polar ice melts, the US army's top brass struggle to contain bimbo eruptions and Israel does its damnedest to start the third world war, these sore losers want to re-enact 1861."
Collapse. - JO
My take is that wide-spread racism is alive and well in the USA. - Wes
From Rice Farmer in Japan
Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards
"The debt load of Canadian consumers excluding mortgages has soared 400 percent in the past five years, the TransUnion credit reporting agency said Wednesday."
"Chinese banks’ bad loans increased for a fourth straight quarter, the longest streak of deterioration since the data became available in 2004, highlighting pressures on profit growth as the economy weakens."
Oh, brother! More "green shoots"! Let's get this straight: There will be — there cannot be — a recovery and return to the good old days. Just as before, the "green shoots" will wither on the vine. Any economic spurt will be short-lived as energy prices rise in response to increased demand and strangle the recovery. -- RF
"Steelmakers and other metals industries fear that limits the EU is considering imposing on the amount of natural resources they use will push them out of Europe, where environmental regulations are less stringent."
Visualizing The World's Rich (Infographic)
Airline Death Spiral
Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums
"A terrorist attack on the U.S. power grid could be more destructive than superstorm Sandy, possibly costing hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to thousands of deaths, the National Academy of Sciences said."
Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks
Cheap electricity era is over (Israel)
"Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), the third- largest maker of solar panels, fell to a record low after third- quarter sales slumped and the company reduced its shipment forecast for 2012."
"The Desertec concept was stunning in its grandeur, and price. But it is now fast biting the dust. There’s no money for the €400bn (R4.5bn) project, fewer industrial backers and, more telling, European governments are leery of relying on imports for their power, particularly imports inextricably bound to unstable countries."
"Spiking grain prices are forcing up the cost of food for Russians and are set to rise further by spring, when one of the world's largest wheat exporters will face a supply deficit, senior officials, analysts and traders say."
"The drought sharply cut the Kansas fall harvest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
"ZIMBABWE’S strategic grain reserve is severely depleted with stocks currently at 184,000 metric tonnes against the ideal 500,000 metric tonnes."
"President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks."
"Today’s data centres are being built with multiple safeguards against data loss, power loss and to some degree, the elements. But as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, once your diesel generators get flooded with sea water, it doesn’t matter what level of resiliency you’ve taken your data centre to: It’s game over."
"In its third major computer outage since June of last year, United Airlines has once again left passengers waiting at its gates at major airports around the country."
"Noted geologist worries warning signs will continue to go unheeded"
"Almost half of China's large- and mid-sized steel mills reported losses during the first nine months of 2012, the China Iron and Steel Association said on Wednesday."
They have to say something to string the public along and buy time… for the recovery that will never come. -- RF
"Outbreaks of tree disease in England were at a record high this year – even before ash dieback was discovered in the country, according to the Forestry Commission."
"The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its key mid-Atlantic manufacturing index dropped sharply in November, falling back into a contraction."
"Superstorm Sandy drove a surge in new claims for jobless benefits last week and hurt factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region in November, signs it could deal a substantial blow to economic growth in the fourth quarter."
"Paul has always criticized the government, corporatism, taxation policies, war and federal spending. His unwavering commitment to his ideology gained him millions of supporters. And in his farewell speech, he lambasted government once again for moving away from the founding principles of the Constitution."
Ron Paul: One of the last champions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Where do you stand now? -- RF
"The Federal Housing Administration is expected to report later this week that it could exhaust its reserves because of rising mortgage delinquencies"
"Interviewing various bouncers, bartenders, pedicab drivers and other low-skilled workers along Bourbon St. in New Orleans, Peter found almost everyone had an expensive college degree. And not meaningless ones, either. He found people with advanced degrees in neuroscience, robotics, radiology, and mechanical engineering, to name but a few. One woman who works as a sign holder said she 'lucked out' by owing only $25,000 in student loans!"